The new mayor wants to make road closures less onerous on drivers by speeding up construction projects and enforcing "no stopping" rules more effectively.
Mayor John Tory this morning announced his six-point plan for reducing Toronto’s traffic congestion, which he said is “strangling” the city. Speaking at Toronto’s traffic management centre in Scarborough alongside councillor and newly appointed public works chair Jaye Robinson (Ward 25, Don Valley West), Tory said his plan will deliver “immediate action and real relief in the next few weeks and months.”
Here’s an overview of the plan…
1. Greater enforcement of “no stopping” rules
Tory said he will work with Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair to move parking enforcement officers from residential streets to “key intersections and major roads during rush hour.” On January 1, a “zero tolerance” towing policy, targeting vehicles (including delivery and shredder trucks) that park on major routes during rush hour, will take effect. He did not indicate whether this policy would apply to drivers who park in bike lanes.
The mayor also said he has asked City officials to find ways to recoup the $4 million of revenue lost annually to parking violators with out-of-province licence plates.
2. Improved road-closure reporting
For the next six months, Tory will chair Toronto’s road-closure co-ordination committee in hopes of improving the way closures are scheduled and reported; he noted that currently there seems to be little logic behind the process. “It is not acceptable to me or to the people of Toronto to have the Gardiner closed the same weekend that there are Leafs games and Jays games, and that somebody else decided to close the subway down for track repairs,” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
Tory said he wants to ensure that any event that might have an impact on traffic be added to the City’s road-closure reporting system. He revealed that such information is currently delivered by fax and stressed the need for modernization: “Let’s get into the 21st century, or maybe even just the 20th century.”
3. New traffic-enforcement team
Tory said he will ask members of the police traffic unit, parking enforcement, and transportation services staff to collaborate on a more robust traffic-enforcement strategy.
He also said that 40 new traffic cameras will be installed along major routes over the next several months and added that he wants to “leverage existing eyes in the sky” by negotiating with media outlets to install cameras on their traffic-spotting aircraft that would send information straight to the traffic-management centre.
4. Accelerated traffic-signal retiming program
Tory wants to increase from 250 to 350 the number of traffic signals set to be retimed in 2015. He added: “We will also move faster to test and pilot the new smart traffic signal technology that can sense traffic flow and respond in real time.”
5. Stricter regulations for private construction
The mayor said he will work “to bring into line the often insensitive and wrongheaded way we approach construction on our city streets” and added that establishing higher fees and more stringent criteria for private developers looking to shut down traffic lanes for construction projects would reduce the number and duration of closures.
6. Accelerated public-sector construction
Tory said the City is pushing to implement extended work hours for public-sector construction projects that impinge on major roads. Allowing construction to take place from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., he said, will ensure shorter road closures. Tory also supports offering financial incentives for early project completion.